December 17, 2009


If I say, “I know something that has already happened in the future.” then you may think I am wrong but many philosophers and physicists believe the possibility of such statement being true.

Present, past and future are relative terminologies used with the events occurring in a particular time. Then question arises what is time? This is one of the burning questions with many contradictory answers.

“A successful unification of quantum theory and relativity would necessarily be a theory of the universe as a whole. It would tell us, as Aristotle and Newton did before, what space and time are, what the cosmos is, what things are made of, and what kind of laws those things obey. Such a theory will bring about a radical shift – a revolution – in our und2erstanding of what nature is. It must also have wide repercussions, and will likely bring about, or contribute to, a shift in our understanding of ourselves and our relationship to the rest of the universe” (Lee Smolin)

Physicists define time as what the clock reads. But this is not simple as it looks, this statement it self opens another series of confusing questions like what is the starting point of time? Does time has a start? Is time finite? Is time always real?

Many of the scientists consider time has roots leading to the Big Bang. But on the other hand another argument waits what was Big Bang and also whether there was any Big Bang ?
Time is also considered to be relative with respect to space that’s why we use the term space time coordinate. This can be understood by a simple example:

If I say a point was on x=0, y=0 and z=0 position at t=0 time and then moved to x=1,y=2 and z=2 at t=1 time means in 1 unit of time the point moved 3 position units (using difference formula).

Another question arises is the time same or the clock same for every observer? Einstein’s special theory of relativity did away with the idea that events can be simultaneous if they are in different locations. The difference in time between two events depends on their difference in distance and how fast the observer is moving.

Time is considered by some as linear such as Newton and Bacon who considered time as one way with no coming back but in the twentieth century, Gödel and others discovered solutions to the equations of Einstein’s general theory of relativity that allowed closed loops of proper time. These causal loops or closed curves in space-time allow you to go forward continuously in time until you arrive back into your past. Which means we can go to our past meet our childhood self. On the other hand time dilation concept allows you to see the future.

There are other terminologies we use which are related to time such as duration, occurrence of events, instants. Events occur in a particular duration of time. Time is also defined as the collection of instants and instants are said to be the boundaries of durations. Durations are considered to be an ordered set of instants means instants are not part of duration but a member of duration.

Now at the end of my article I quote Albert Einstein who once said, “The development during the present century is characterized by two theoretical systems essentially independent of each other: the theory of relativity and the quantum theory. The two systems do not directly contradict each other; but they seem little adapted to fusion into one unified theory. For the time being we have to admit that we do not possess any general theoretical basis for physics which can be regarded as its logical foundation.If it is true that the axiomatic basis of theoretical physics cannot be extracted from experience but must be freely invented, can we ever hope to find the right way? I answer without hesitation that there is, in my opinion, a right way, and that we are capable of finding it. I hold it true that pure thought can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed.”

I hope we will be able to find the right way.

See Also:

(This is something I wrote in University days some of you may find it a real basic intro of the topic)


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